Now we have reached the end of the AFC 2001 Business Plan. We steeped ourselves in Present Position. We created a Vision. We created Goals and Action Plans. I wrote about 1 of those goals and how it impacted the business. Before I move on to the first big move after the Business Plan, I want to talk about how we implemented and monitored the goals and action plans.
We rolled out the Business Plan to the larger organization. This meant Senior people, typically Directors and Senior Managers. These folks would then take the Business Plan to their groups and align their organizations with the overall plan. Each Senior Executive would ensure that the group plans lined up with the overall Business Plan. On top of that we created cross functional teams to complete several goals. These were run by one of that larger group of Senior Team members and the Executive Team sponsored one or two of the teams. The intent of all of this was to help the larger organization buy into the plan and make sure that it got implemented. The Executives were in charge of making sure that the overall ship remained pointed in the right direction, but we knew that we needed the nearly 1,000 people to go with us.
This is one of the essentials of Leadership and I want to highlight it here. As a Manager whether front line or higher, you can not ensure that every action taken by your people is correct. The whole point of Mission Statements, Visions, Goals, and other larger statements is to provide people with guideposts to make decisions. When I was a design engineer, I made dozens of individual choices a day about the end product. If I did not have directive on how to weigh the choices, then I would use my own judgement in making those decisions. As an Executive, that is one of your most important functions. Tell people how to weigh the choices. If they do not weigh them properly, correct them. If they constantly make bad decisions or contrary choices, then exit them from the business. Building an effective staff that is all trying to achieve the same goals is very important. This does not mean that you want "Yes Men". I remember Mike Cooney chiding me for not wanting to make an organizational change in a group I ran temporarily. Mark Abrams and I used to go toe to toe on portfolio investment issues. I like and respect both of them.
We also created a dashboard of Key Peformance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Results Indicators (KRIs). I was at a smaller firm where we had about 50 elements we were supposed to track at an Executive level. I found this overkill and we did a terrible job of tracking them. At AFC, there were about 10 we tracked at an Executive level. There were others that each of us tracked in our functional organizations. Unless they were very wrong or very right we never talked about them at an executive level. We held a Monthly Business Review to go over the Dashboard and Team reports. We talked to the whole organization at a quarterly meeting about the dashboard.
Again all of this is about three things:
- Leadership through education. Make sure that everyone in the organization knows about the plan and we were doing about it.
- Accountability through reporting. Make sure that we tell everyone about how we do and both our wins and our losses.
- Course Correction through monitoring. Make sure we stay on track by making sure that we are meeting our KPIs or changing our plans.
In summary, have a plan - keep track of the plan - and fix things when they go off course. If you can do only those 3 things, you will likely have a good business. Tomorrow, my local content post. Friday, our first major action...a failed acquisition.
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